Finally, Lokpal bill gets Rajya Sabha approval
The Rajya Sabha finally passed the much delayed Lokpal bill, paving the way for setting up an ombudsman to battle corruption in the government and among public servants.
The bill had been pending in the Rajya Sabha for almost two years as opposition members had reservations on the draft passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2011.
A select committee had examined the bill in detail and given its recommendations, many of which were incorporated by the government in the amended bill tabled in the Rajya Sabha last week.
The amended bill will now go to the Lok Sabha where it is expected to be taken up.
The Lokpal bill has hogged national limelight after activist Anna Hazare led a massive protest involving hundreds of thousands in the capital in 2011.
Hazare is again on fast in his village in Maharashtra for the past eight days but has promised to call it off after the Lokpal legislation is enacted.
But the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha said his party was against religion-based appointments in Lokpal as it was against the spirit of the constitution.
He also urged the government to get the whistle blowers' protection bill and citizens grievance redress bill passed by parliament.
It will cover the prime minister with certain conditions, ministers, current and former MPs and legislators, government employees and staff of companies funded or controlled by the central government.
It also has in its ambit societies and trusts which collect public money.
According to PRS Legislative, a think tank tracking the work of parliament, the bill also provides for penalty for false and and frivolous complaints.
Any inquiry must be completed within 60 days and investigation within six months.
Lokpal will have superintendence over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in relation to cases referred by it.